Old Fall River Road will be closed in 2014 due to flood damage
Damages on Old Fall River Road are extensive and the road will remain closed to vehicles through 2014. It is unknown at this time whether hikers and bicyclists will be allowed on the road. More »
Impacts from September 2013 Flood
Due to recent flooding, there are still some closures in the park that could affect your visit. More »
Fire has been an essential and natural part of the Rocky Mountain ecosystem for thousands of years. The presence of fire within Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the significant factors contributing to the diversity and perpetuation of flora and fauna and overall health of park ecosystems.
Fire naturally thins the forest, recycles nutrients into the soil, releases seeds for new plant growth, and creates meadows. All of these are critical to forest health and natural cycles of growth and decomposition. Research in fire ecology has demonstrated that many plant and animal species actually benefit from the rejuvenating effects of fires burning regularly through their habitat. Without fire, forests would not be able to support the diverse habitats required by many plant, bird and mammal species.
Despite the evidence that fire is a necessary element, over most of the past century people have feared and suppressed it whenever possible. Lightning has always been, and still remains the primary cause of wildland fires. On average, Rocky Mountain National Park experiences three to seven lightning caused fires per year. Other factors - including past logging practices, grazing levels and climatic conditions - have also contributed to changes in natural fire regimes.
As a result of this exclusion of fire, there has been an unnatural fuel buildup of live, dead and diseased trees, pine needles, shrubs and grasses in some areas of the park. This accumulation of fuel now presents extreme hazards to the health of forests, soil, watersheds and wildlife. It also is a primary concern to people living in these areas, as well as to the taxpayer that has to pay for the suppression costs of major wildfires.
Did You Know?
The ptarmigan is camouflaged perfectly in summer, with "mottled rock" color, and in winter, when it takes on the color of snow.